GLOUCESTER captain Marco Bortolami has been named Italian player of 2006 by the coaches in the Italian Championship.
Bortolami, who has led Gloucester to second place in the Guinness Premiership following his summer move to Kingsholm, won the award from all the current players playing in Italy and abroad.
He was nominated thanks to his leadership qualities at both club and international level and for his outstanding contribution to the Italian team in the 2006 Six Nations.
Bortolami told www.gloucesterrugby.co.uk "I would like to thank all the coaches who voted for me, I always work hard and it nice to see that people appreciate me.
"The Italian team and Gloucester Rugby are very important because they gave me the possibility to play very good rugby. It is a huge honour for me to be captain of my country and also Gloucester and I always give my utmost to both teams."
Gloucester's head coach Dean Ryan added: "Marco certainly deserves this accolade - he would be an asset to any side in the Six Nations and has been instrumental for us this season."
Speaking to the media following the 31-33 West Country Challenge Cup defeat to Exeter Chiefs at the Memorial Stadium, Director of Rugby David Humphreys was full of praise for his side's battling qualities in a bruising encounter but concerned about the injuries picked up.
The West Country Challenge Cup fixture against the Exeter Chiefs at the Memorial Stadium in Bristol on Saturday (kick off 3pm) will be Gloucester's last chance to work on things like new combinations says Director of Rugby, David Humphreys.
Speaking after the 30-21 West Country Challenge Cup defeat at Bath, Director of Rugby David Humphreys spoke of the improvements his team are making as preseason progresses but acknowledges that there is still work to do ahead of the start of the Aviva Premiership.
Speaking to the local media ahead of Saturday's trip to Bath Rugby in the West Country Challenge Cup, front rower Nick Wood spoke of the hard work put in across the extended preseason and highlighted the competition for front row spots in the squad.
Gloucester have named a 30 man squad for the latest round of West Country Challenge Cup action against Bath on Saturday, with Director of Rugby David Humphreys stressing the need to keep an eye on player workload ahead of what will be a long, tough season.
Describing the 50-7 West Country Challenge Cup win over Bath on Sunday as a '...good hit out...', wing Charlie Sharples admitted that it had been a good opportunity to put into practice things that the squad have been trying out in training in recent weeks.
Speaking to the local media after the 50-7 victory over Bath Rugby on Sunday, David Humphreys was happy with his squad's effort, with the most important aspect being the game time earned by his players.
Gloucester make wholesale changes to the side that started at Exeter last Saturday as they prepare to take on Bath at the Memorial Stadium, Bristol on Sunday in the West Country Challenge Cup (kick off 3pm). The Director of Rugby told GRTV that the players are raring to go and that he's looking forward to seeing different combinations in action.